Thanks to the awesome team at Vancouver Craft Beer Week I was recently able to attend #IP HAZY at the Lamp Lighter which was:
“Their first ever Whole Hog Cookout + Crawfish Boil. They’ll be spinning a full pig on the patio while they boil up a massive pot of spicy & seasoned crawfish & veg. While you feast you can sample the Haziest selection of IPAs available”
I came with one question: IS BC HAZY BEER UP TO SNUFF?!
The event featured Hazy beer from A number of BC craft breweries including Hearthstone, Moody Ales, Twin Sails, R and B Brewing, Howe Sound, and Aslan and Brewers Row Collab.
Please keep in mind i’ve scoured the US of A for the best HAZY offerings and had the white whales of Tree House, Trillium, Mumford, Monkish, Pure Project et al. I feel pretty confident in giving you guys an honest opinion of how our shit stacks up.
So does it stack up? YES!… and no….
There is some top notch stuff being produced right now in BC hazy beer, stuff so good its easily as good as the stuff sourced from the states these beers include:
the Superflux Colour and Shape, Twin Sails High Socks (not even the best hazy from twin) , The Moody Ales Huge Citra Pale Ale, R & B Shake your Frooty and the VCBW Brewers Row Collab. Others not at this event but great hazy examples include The rest of TS and Superflux Hazy offerings, Boombox and I’m sure some more by now.
Unfortunately, there are some less than great examples of the style here too and i would recommend not spending your cash on these ones:
Phillips Flamango Milkshake IPA and Howe Sound Hazy Daze NE IPA.
So what did I learn? Well even though its a brand new style to our region we have some world class NE Hazy style IPAs in BC. But with anything new there are some growing pains and stuff to stay away from.
Final Thoughts: Kudos to VCBW for a great event! I think the future of the event is in these focused events like the IP HAZY.
There was a time when I would excitedly wait for the results of beer awards, reading the pages and assigning power rankings in my head to beer and breweries alike. It was a fun way to bring beer into the world of sport… but it was stupid.
See, I learned early on that beers and Breweries were not awarded for the subjective best beer in each category but rather for closest to style guidelines… Some of you are probably saying “what the hell does that mean?” Well in most beer competitions beers are rated on their ability to meet style guidelines like this:
Who came up with this guidelines? Beer dorks many years go (not to say I’m not a beer dork myself, but when they came up with this stuff I was a Power Rangers Dork). So, to continue on my sports analogy that would be like awarding the Stanley Cup not to the team who won in subjective circumstances (the playoffs) but to the team that best resembled a hockey team according to Toe Blake. That’s stupid…
Moreover ,it also means that innovation is rendered insignificant until some beer dork decides it is worth create a new box around the new style (Style Guide).
Of course some will say the brewers are not beholden to these style guide lines and can brew what they want. Sure, but winning an award such as brewery of the year or best in show or for some stupid reason European Style Amber to Dark Lager (actual stupid category at the Canadian Beer awards) often means sales to the breweries. This means there is an incentive for breweries to brew boring similar beers. This is the same logic that got us to MACRO LAGERS. Furthermore, the depth of awards for different lame versions of German lagers and English ales and the contrasting dearth of awards for sours and new styles of IPAs (y’know the shit people actually drink) again incentivizes brewing boring beer.
Now, I’ll pause for a moment because I’m sure you might recognize many flaws in my argument, foremost that no one is forced to brew anything. But i’ll stop you there because my argument is simple – “Brewing boring beer is lame, and beer awards that incentivize boring beer are lame.”
I reject all your objections to this opinion because my opinion is not objective, its subjective just like tasting beer is. It is imperfect and impossible to replicate, and to do so would be foolhardy (dumb). So if you are going to award a beer do it because you like it not because it totally hits those SRM guidelines (SRM is the colour of the beer… THE COLOUR).
My Case Study- Mount Begbie Brewing out of Invermere. A small brewery who’s stuff I’ve had I’ve generally liked, good beer. Mount Begbie won awards for:
German Style Kölsch
Gold: Mt. Begbie Brewing Company, High Country Kolsch
Bronze: Mt. Begbie Brewing Company, Brave Liver Scotch Ale
Gold: Mt. Begbie Brewing Company, Begbie Cream Ale
Brewery of the Year
Hold Up! you won brewery of the year hot on the heals for Gold medals for your Kolsch and Cream Ale!? Can you imagine bringing those beers to a bottle share down in Bellingham? or New Westminster even? You’d get laughed out of town. Kolsch, Scotch Ale, and Cream Ale are figuratively the old white guys of craft beer they literally are consumer examples of fucking colonialism – but hey Canada, this is the best god damn beer we make! Don’t be bothered by a Hill Farmstead beer or a hazy Monkish IPA, oh no, you come take a seat on the beach in your pantaloons and sip on a fucking scotch ale, like fuck, when did you turn 124?…
Here it comes the biggest week long beer bash in the city with heavy flavour of #BrewersRow. VCBW is arguably Vancouver’s biggest beer event encompassing several medium sized events and the massive PNE weekend festival!.
Notable not only for an awesome festival, but also creative events the pair the beer festival with the mural festival, a collaboration festival, events focussing on Belgian, Fruit, and strong beers, a Hazy IPA night and more.
Most interesting to you might be the BREWERS ROW BLOCK PARTY. A day showcasing the Brewers Row Hazy Pale VCBW Collab beer (delicious), music and good times.
There are many options get a drink in Port Moody these days, and I really do hate it when people choose a crappy one… So, I might as well tell you where to go!
(This list is made of places where beer is served at least as near equal to wine, so you won’t find food forward restaurants on my list)
C’mon, where else could it be? Brewers Row is arguably the best place in Canada to get a beer with Twin Sails and Yellow Dog making world class stuff and Moody and Parkside making sure there is quite literally something for everyone, not to mention beautiful views and places to hang out AND delicious food trucks. This is easily THE place to have a beer.
St. James’s Well:
Questionable spelling aside this is as close as you will get to a British/Irish pub (those words should never be so close) in Port Moody. Great Pub Food, Solid taps, The bar staff and manager will know you by the third time you walk in. They also have a simply rad Tuesday night trivia going on at the moment, and if its sunny maybe even try the patio.
3. Browns Social House
Ok a shocker, heres the thing, good ambience, great patio, great food (better than many of the pubs) and a tiny but decent enough draft list… Ok there isn’t many great places to drink in Port Moody, but if you are into mediocre we got’chu.
4. Brew Street
They claim 100 beers on tap (in my experience that hasn’t been the case) and even though most of them are simply core beers from local breweries that is still a massive list to find something you like. The food is good too but often its the crowd that kills this place… A bunch of guys named Brett drinking Corona in jeans with flaps on the back of the pockets… nothing wrong with that of course… just not my scene.
5. The Burrard
Not much to say here, some odd posh decorating married to a perfectly normal functioning pub, decent smaller taps (20 ish taps) decent well priced food, odd chairs and faux fireplaces… its all here.
6. The Rocky Point Tap House
This is a dive that doesn’t realize its a dive… and it could be so good, if only it realized it was a dive! Every city needs a dive and that is what the Point needs to be. We have a “Craft beer bar”, a “upscale bar” an “Irish bar”. We need a place with cheap local taps and wings every night. To be fair there are great food specials here and a decent selection of local if not boring brewers rows taps, it would totally shoot up the list if they would stop sweeping up the peanut skins I keep throwing on the ground.
7. Romer’s Burger Bar
Did you notice all the spaces? That’s because Romer’s simply sucks. Bad service and terrible food can’t make up for a boring local tap list, just don’t go.
Don’t believe me try yelp https://www.yelp.ca/biz/romers-port-moody
Chock full of the latest releases from the USA, Hazy IPAs Barrel aged Stouts et al.
The thing is you don’t want to mess with high shipping cost and fear of breaking cross border shipping laws, well here is the solution if you live in the Lower Mainland…
First of all you need an instagram page… like mine:
2. Start following some cool breweries, Like Monkish, Trillium and Treehouse and decide what you are looking for.
3. Also follow local breweries especially the photos of new releases.
4. THIS IS KEY, scour the comments sections for three important letters “ISO”. ISO stands for “in search of” and indicates someone is looking for your local beers.
5. Next take a look through this person’s profile and see if they have access to beers you are interested in. If so contact them politely and see if they are willing to trade.
NOTE: There are several different ways to trade, most often I trade can for can, but its not unheard of to trade dollar for dollar or to trade many beers for one beer etc. IT IS ILLEGAL TO SELL BEER. FINALLY throw is a can or two of your favourites, everyone does this and its great to try unknowns too!
6. Once you have decided on a trade pack a box there is an art and respect aspect to this so try this link http://homebrewacademy.com/how-to-ship-beer/
7. This is where the magic happens. After you have boxed your beer DO NOT SEAL THE BOX. You will drive the box over to the border and tell the Border guard what you are doing if it is your primary reason for going over the border. It is legal to bring the beer over the border and it is legal to ship beer with UPS, FEDEX etc. but NOT USPS. They may ask some questions don’t lie and be ready to answer truthfully.
8. Once you are across head to a shipping store like UPS in Blaine or Bellingham. Go ahead and ship the box, if they ask what it is I say salsa just because it keeps the process moving faster. You will pay significantly less shipping from the states.
9. to receive your beer set up an account with a service that receives packages just over the border like Pic It Up in Sumas. http://picitupinsumas.com
They have a flat 3 buck Canadian fee to pick up a package and good hours. When you head back over the border declare the beer you are bringing back. I have it on good authority that it is not worth the time of the guard to charge duty on anything less than 12 beers after a short stay in the US. Therefore do not bring back more than 12 beers.
NOTE: Make sure you have beer to trade that people actually want. Unfortunatley Canadian beer is really not a big deal in the States. They know little and want little of what we have. What they seem to like at the moment is Twin Sails Hazy beer program. outside of that they seem to care little. We can change this slowly by including other brewery’s beer as a “throw in” to expose them to more beers. I often throw in hazy beers from Yellow Dog, and Superflux. START BUILDING A TRADING INVENTORY:
Ok ok ok… I dont hate beer reviews, in fact I like knowing what people enjoy and I like people recommending beer to me. But there is a limit and we have hit that limit without a doubt. We clearly live in a world where pedanticness=credibility and that is just plain wrong. We also live in a world where a lot of people drink craft beer but don’t know much about it… and thats ok, as long as you don’t try to shove content down my throat telling me about how good that 3 month old pale ale with galaxy dry hops is (its not good, it tastes of little, and I don’t care what you think).
First lets start positive…
How to do it right:
Have an angle… Craft beer, especially in Canada, is very regional and in many cases is confined to a town. Which means it doesn’t matter how well you compare the malt profile to a specific biscuit from the the former Yugoslavia. It means sweet F all to anyone but those people living in that town, all 5 craft beer drinkers from 100 Mile house hanging out at Jackson’s Social Club And Brew House (I googled that because seriously no one has heard of it). Seriously it doesn’t matter if you are the Robert Frost of beer reviews, you are boring as hell.
That means how the beer tastes isn’t interesting enough on its own because I cannot get it. How do you make it more interesting?
Have an angle… and tell me what that angle is… Its not enough to have an angle, state it, or at the very least it should be clear what your angle is from your writing. What makes your blog about reviews interesting? Why do you happen to have an affinity for porters but hate all pale ales? If its not clear to me, I don’t care what you have to say…
Some People do this well… The Beer Rater for example clearly states his angle and I can situate his reviews in relation to myself, see here:
As you can see The Beer Rater has clearly defined what he is doing, now you have a point of reference from which to decide how seriously you can take their opinion.
A lot of people do this quite well, off the top of my head I would mention BarleyMowat.com who explains his rating system, Mikescraftbeer.com who simply gives you a quick run down of the flavour profile allowing you to decide if you like it or not and many others.
What not to do…
Talk about beer and expect everyone to be at the same level as you…
Here’s the thing a lot of beer writers and reviewers know about beer, but few know exactly the same amount about beer. They talk and talk and talk ad nauseum about noses, flavours, profiles and balance but they don’t think about their readers and viewers. They don’t realize that people aren’t coming to know what the beer tastes like:
“Because if you know anything about beer, you know a beer brewed in Port Moody and consumed a month later in Edmonton tastes a helluva a lot different than one consumed in Kelowna from the discount bin 8 months after brewing.”
Not to mention, y’know, everyones palates are different and have biases. Rather than give interesting angles or perspective many reviewers these days simply try to cover up the lack of interest with slick production values which is cool, i guess, if you like video production…
These guys seem like nice people they have a lot of cool videos that i check out regularly and recommend you do to, but beer reviews, man they are hard to do in an interesting way… For example, he goes back and forth on calling an ESB an Extra STRONG Bitter and an Extra SPECIAL Bitter (its the latter). Then he goes onto say he doesn’t know much about styles, and then for some reason he expects the viewer to take him seriously? I mean what is the angle here? How is the video adding interest? It might be interesting if he said I know little about this beer and I recommend it to people in the same boat. But nah, … My favourite part is how he says he likes Arrowhead beer because they brew with the local water… as if brewers are importing water or using Dasani or something… C’mon.
That said cool beer wall, nice video production… solid beard. I’m sorry for being a jerk and hope we can be friends in the future. Check out these guys other videos, like this one:
I usually focus on the Tri-Cities and Lower mainland but I love the Punk Rock DIY-ness of this so I’m posting it:
Kettle RiverBrewing is Expanding!
The locally and independently owned, Kettle River Brewing Co, is expanding! They’re looking for community involvement to help fundraise via a crowd-funding campaign on the popular site, Indiegogo.
Located in the North End of Kelowna BC, they do very small beer runs and have proudly brewed over 200 batches since opening in July of 2016. Being a small team (only 4, including the founders!) with a strong DIY-ethos, everything in the brewery has been built by them. In fact, most of the brewery, including everything from the equipment to the barn wood bar is second-hand or recycled parts.
The current, tiny 1bbl brewing system, handmade out of used tea tree oil tins and dairy parts, is not sufficient for the current growth rate and public demand. To keep up, they’ve ordered a new 5bbl brewing system (5x the beer!) but still need to pay for the rest of it, including all installation costs to get it operational. Additionally, to prepare for the Okanagan summer, they’ve started the process of getting a licensed patio out front, including upgrading their tasting lounge license to a lounge endorsement. The success of this would mean customers can enjoy more than one sample glass, outside in the sunshine!
To achieve these goals, the campaign is looking to fundraise up to $30,000 with $20,000 covering the remaining cost of buying and installing the new 5 bbl brewing system, and $10,000 to cover building upgrades, re-zoning for the licensed patio.
Beyond the typical brewery fundraiser perks, such as branded swag, bonus beer, a learn-to-brew day, they’ve included tickets to a Brewhouse Backers Banquet beer 4 course dinner; a “buy-a-brick” option where you can decorate one of the bricks in the wall of the brewery; a portrait painted by a local artist and hung in the brewery, and a custom KRBC kegerator, supplied with beer for a year. To find out more you can visit the fundraiser page: https://igg.me/at/krbcor call us at 250-862-5115.
To celebrate, Kettle River has partnered with Groove Garden Records to have a Mini-Record Store Pop-up Shop day, Sat. March 25th. We’ll be raffling off artwork, vinyl grab bags, special bottles like the bourbon choc. milk stout, brewery swag like fill vouchers, hats etc and will have some special draft on for samples.